For the next month, ThinkTV16 and CET will be following Henry Louis Gates. Jr., as he follows African-American history, from the origins of slavery to present day. This six-part program draws on some of America’s top historians and previously untapped sources to guide viewers on an engaging journey through more than 500 years of history.
African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross will premiere at 8pm Tuesday, Oct. 22, and continue each Tuesday through Nov. 26.
Gates said: “The story of the African-American people is the story of the settlement and growth of America itself, a universal tale that all people should experience … Since my senior year in high school, when I watched Bill Cosby narrate a documentary about black history, I’ve longed to share those stories in great detail to the broadest audience possible, young and old, black and white, scholars and the general public. I believe that my colleagues and I have achieved this goal through The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.”
Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.
The first episode, The Black Atlantic, explores the truly global experiences that created the African-American people. Beginning a full century before the first documented “20-and-odd” slaves who arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, the episode portrays the earliest Africans, both slave and free, who arrived on these shores. But the transatlantic slave trade would soon become a vast empire connecting three continents.
Through stories of individuals caught in its web, like a 10-year-old girl named Priscilla who was transported from Sierra Leone to South Carolina in the mid-18th century, we trace the emergence of plantation slavery in the American South. The late 18th century saw a global explosion of freedom movements, and The Black Atlantic examines what that Era of Revolutions — American, French and Haitian — would mean for African Americans and for slavery in America.